The Green Party is furious after Speaker Lockwood Smith refused special funding for deaf MP Mojo Mathers in Parliament, and says the move amounts to discrimination.
Ms Mathers currently uses an electronic notetaker, which provides an instant transcript of what is being said in the House, to participate in Parliament.
However, Ms Mathers told media this afternoon that Dr Smith had told her she would have to fund the notetaker from her MP support budget, or that the party would have to fund it.
Yes; on the face of it, it sounds like a bad judgment call from Lockwood Smith. But then you read this bit (our emphasis added):
However, the Speaker's office said Dr Smith and Parliamentary Services did not have the authority to approve the extra funding.
"He would have to go to the Parliamentary Service Commission, he'd have to go to the Government and ask for additional funding to do what she wants because its not part of the appropriation,'' a spokeswoman said.Dr Smith would raise the issue at next month's Parliamentary Service Commission meeting.
There it is in a nutshell. Lockwood Smith has declined the funding because he would have to break the rules he himself administers to do so. It would appear that by raising the issue at the next meeting of the Parliamentary Service Commission he is doing the right thing, even though the timing of it might not be to the Greens' liking.
But the rules that Mr Speaker administers are there for a reason, and in our considered opinion he is following the right process. After all, don't we get all antsy when politicians simply change a law because it doesn't suit them?